Profession of Belief, and Plan of the General Association of the Universal Churches and Societies of the New England States. (1803)

The Churches and Societies of Universalists of the New England States, assembled in General Convention, holden at Winchester, in New Hampshire, on the 21st and 22nd of September, A. D. 1803.

To the individuals of the several Churches and Societies, and to all persons whom it may concern, Greeting.

Brethren and Friends, Whereas the diversities of capacity and of opportunity for obtaining information, together with many attendant circumstances, have occasioned among the sincere professions of the Abrahamic faith some diversities of opinion concerning points of doctrine and modes of practice, we, therefore, think it expedient, in order to prevent confusion and misunderstanding, and to promote the edifying and building up of the Church together in love, to record and publish that Profession of Belief which we agree in as essential, and that plan of ecclesiastical fellowship and general subordination which we as a Christian Association conceive we ought to maintain.

Article I. We believe that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament contain a revelation of the character of God, and of the duty, interest and final destination of mankind.

Article II. We believe that there is one God, whose nature is Love, revealed in one Lord Jesus Christ, by one Holy Spirit of Grace, who will finally restore the whole family of mankind to holiness and happiness.

Article III. We believe that holiness and true happiness are inseparably connected, and that believers ought to be careful to maintain order and practice good works; for these things are good and profitable unto men.

As we believe these to be truths which deeply concern the honor of the Divine character and the interests of man, we do hereby declare that we continue to consider ourselves, and our societies in fellowship, a Denomination of Christians, distinct and separate from those who do not approve the whole of this Profession of Belief, as expressed in the three above Articles.

And as a distinctdenomination, we continue to claim the authority of exercising among ourselves that order for the glory of God in the good of the church, which Christianity requires.

And we continue to claim the external privileges, which, according to the free Constitution of our country, every denomination is entitled to enjoy.

Yet while we, as an Association, adopt a general Profession of Belief and Plan of Church Government, we leave it to the several Churches and Societies, or to smaller associations of churches, if such should be formed, within the limits of our General Association, to continue or adopt within themselves, such more particular articles of faith, or modes of discipline, as may appear to them best under their particular circumstances, provided they do not disagree with our general Profession and Plan.

And while we consider that every Church possesses within itself all the powers of self-government, we earnestly and affectionately recommend to every Church, Society, or particular Association, to exercise the spirit of Christian meekness and charity towards those who have different modes of faith or practice, that where the brethren cannot see alike, they may agree to differ; and let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

PLAN OF THE GENERAL ASSOCIATION

Section 1st. The General Association of Universalists of the New England States shall hold a Convention once each year, at such time and place as shall have been appointed by the preceding Convention.

Section 2d. Each Society approving our general Profession and Plan,

and manifesting a desire for the increase and support of gospel light and order, shall have a right to send to the Convention a delegate or delegates, who shall hold our general Profession of Belief, and appoint a sober, moral character, and such delegates shall be received as members of the Convention.

Section 3d. Those ordained Ministers and licensed Preachers of the Gospel who have received the fellowship of the Association, shall be considered as members of each Convention as which they attend, while they remain in that fellowship, whether they

produce credentials from any society, or not.

Section 4th. The consent of the majority of the members present shall be necessary to the reception of any new member who is neither a minister nor a preacher in fellowship, nor a delegate producing credentials from some Church, Society, or particular Association.

Section 5th. Each member of the Convention shall be entitled to one vote in every matter to be determined; except those in which the Societies represented ought to have equal privileges, such as determining the place for holding the next Convention, or any other matter which a majority of the Convention shall judge to be of a similar

nature in this respect; in such cases each society shall be considered as having no more than one voice, and each

person voting shall be considered as representing no more than one Society.

Section 6th. The business of a General Convention, when met, shall be:

To choose a Presiding Elder, Clerk, and other Officers if necessary.

To examine into the state of particular Societies, Churches, or Associations, on due representation; and to give or withhold, continue or withdraw their fellowship, as may be necessary.

To look over the conduct of the members of the Association, especially those who labor in word and doctrine, and approve or rebuke, or deny fellowship, as occasion may require.

To examine into the qualifications of ministers, preachers, or other individuals who appear [as] candidates for the fellowship of the Association, and give or withhold that fellowship, as may appear best.

To appoint, and hear the reports of, particular committees, and determine concerning them.

And to adopt all such measures in their power as may tend to the promotion of good order, instruction and edification.

Section 7th. Ordinations during the recess of the Convention shall be conducted as heretofore, at such times and in such places and manner as attendant circumstances and good order may require, and due and seasonable report thereof shall be made to the Association, in Convention.

Section 8th. The General Association, and particular Associations and Churches, in all cases are required to look for those qualifications in their Officers which the Scriptures of the New Testament have made requisite, particularly Matthew, chapter xxviii, verses 19th and 20th, and the 3d and 4th chapters of the first Epistle to Timothy; and they are referred to the same sacred books for directions how to deal with offenders, particularly Matthew xviii. 15th, 21st, and Luke xvii. 3d and 4th.

Section 9th. The General Association disclaims all authority for passing any further judgment against any offending particular Association, Society, Church or individual, than the mere withdrawing of fellowship.

Section 10th. The Association reserves to itself, under the direction of that divine wisdom which was to accompany the followers of Christ to the end of the world, the right of making hereafter such alterations of this General Plan of the Association, as circumstances may require. But there is no alteration of any part of the three Articles that contain the Profession of our Belief ever to be made at any future period.

The above and the within, is respectfully submitted by Zebulon Streeter, George Richards, Hosea Ballou, Walter Ferris, Zephaniah Lathe, The Committee of the General Convention, appointed at Strafford, Vermont, September 1802.

The following document, and the Profession and the Plan were reprinted in Richard Eddy’s serialized “Universalist Conventions and Creeds” (Universalist Quarterly, July 1876: 168-69.)

Following this [the Plan – Scott Wells] in the Record book, is this certificate of the adoption of the Committee’s Report:

By the General Convention of the Universal Churches and

Societies, Ratification in Total: The above, and all and every part thereof, having been deliberately read, maturely considered, and seriously investigated, was accepted of and passed by the unanimous vote of all present. In solemn witness whereof, the Presiding Elder, and Clerk, and Assistant Reader, have affixed their respective signatures.

ZEBULON STREETER, Presiding Elder.

NOAH MURRAY, Clerk

Winchester, N. H., Sept. 23, 1803.

EDWARD TURNER, Assistant Reader

The printed

Minutes contain in addition to the above, the following:

APPROVED IN TOTAL.

Joab Young, Ministering at Strafford, Vermont. Ebenezer Paine, Ministering at Washington, N. H. Miles T. Woolly, Ministering at large. Edmund Pillsbury Ministering at Northwood, N. H. Samuel Hilliard, Ministering at Cornish, N. H. William Farewell. Ministering at Charlestown, N. H. Cyrus Gray Parsons, [Cornelius Grey Person] Ministering at Windsor, Vermont. Samuel Smith, Ministering at Salisbury,

Connecticut. Joshua Flagg, Ministering at Dana, Massachusetts.

APPROVING ELDERS AND MESSENGERS

Ezekiel Powers, Samuel Brown, Ebenezer Cheeny, John Haskell, Amos Wendall, Nathaniel Stacy, Asa Lawrence, Joseph Wakefield,

Chandler Robbins, David Castine, George Simmons, James Walker, Daniel Griffis, Col. Copeland, Samuel Williams, Wales Cheeney, Levi Maxey, David Needham, Johnathan Page, Oliver Noies, Paul Mason, George Beckwith, Samuel Parrett, Joel Amesdon, Samuel Murdock, Samuel Cotton, Stephen Powers.

DISSENTIENTS

Noah Murray and Solomon Glover.

The “Certificate of the Adoption of the Committee’s Report”, being the “Profession of Belief, and Plan of the General Association of the Universal Churches and Societies of the New England States”

[Eddy’s note continue]

It is somewhat remarkable that none of the names of the Committee appear in this list, and with the exception of Noah Murray, none of the names of the Officers of the Convention. Thirty-eight Societies were represented by the delegates, — fifteen of them by Ministers, one by N. Stacy, a “Candidate for the Ministry,” and twenty-two by laymen. The Societies and their representatives were: Charlton, Sturbridge, Rev. Edward Turner; New Marlboro, Tyringham, Rev. Samuel Smith; Bernard, Rev. Hosea Ballou; Goshen, Lenox, Stockbridge, Pittsfield, Rev. Miles T.

Wooley; Dana, Rev. Joshua Flagg; Portsmouth, Rev. George Richards; Hinesburg, Rev. Walter Ferriss; Washington, Rev.

Ebenezer Paine; Newton, [Newton, Ct.] Rev. Samuel Glover; Grafton, Rev. Zephaniah Lathe; Benson, Rev. N. Stacy; Orange,

Ebenezer Cheeney; Winchester, John Haskll; Boston, Deacon Emmons; Bridgewater, Amos Wendall [or Mendall]; Andover, Samuel Brown; Salisbury, Asa Lawrence; West Briton, Paul Mason; Windsor, Joseph Wakefield; Croydon, Ezekiel Powers; Bereans, (probably from Boston), John Fillebrown; New Haven, Chandler Rogers; Bethel, Deacon David Castine; Woodstock, George Simmons; Rockingham, James Walker; Monkton, Dea. Daniel Griffis; Hartland, Samuel Williams; Milford, Wales Cheeney; Swansey, Levi Maxey; South Brimfield, David Needham; North Henn[?- S.W.]iker, Jonathan Page; North Hopkinton, Oliver Noies [or Noyes]; Stoddard, Col. Copeland. Ministers present, not delegates, were Zebulon Streeter, of Surry, Mass.; Noah Murray, of Tioga Point, Penn.; Joab Young, of Strafford, Vt.; David Ballou, of Mass.; Edmund Pillsbury, of Northwood, N.H.; William Farewell, of Charlestown, N.H.; Samuel Hilliard, of Cornish, N.H., although his name does not appear in the list of Ministers present, received Ordination at this session: and Abner Kneeland, of Alstead, N.H., a “Candidate for the Ministry, and (with N. Stacy) admitted to fellowship.

Comparing this list of Ministers and Delegates with the list of names of those who are said to have “Approved in total” the report of the Committee, it is seen that David Ballou, Abner Kneeland, William Farewell, Deacon Emmons, and John Fillebrown are not mentioned in the latter. Our previous surmise as to the reason why Noah Murray was among the objectors may well explain the position of the Boston delegates, who represented a Church that had adopted the Philadelphia Profession, and was working under its Plan of Government; and possibly David Ballou, laboring at large in Massachusetts, may have been in sympathy with them. But on the traditional theory of what was to be effected by adopting this report, how account for the non-action of two of the New Hampshire Ministers, and one of them (Rev. William Farewell) Erskine’s Pastor? It will be seen also, in making such a comparison of lists, that Beckwith, Parrett, Amesdon, and Cotton, who are represented as “approving,” are not mentioned in the list of Members of the Convention.

Profession of Belief, and Plan of the General Association of the Universal Churches and Societies of the New England States. (1803)

The Churches and Societies of Universalists of the New England States, assembled in General Convention, holden at Winchester, in New Hampshire, on the 21st and 22nd of September, A. D. 1803.

To the individuals of the several Churches and Societies, and to all persons whom it may concern, Greeting.

Brethren and Friends, Whereas the diversities of capacity and of opportunity for obtaining information, together with many attendant circumstances, have occasioned among the sincere professions of the Abrahamic faith some diversities of opinion concerning points of doctrine and modes of practice, we, therefore, think it expedient, in order to prevent confusion and misunderstanding, and to promote the edifying and building up of the Church together in love, to record and publish that Profession of Belief which we agree in as essential, and that plan of ecclesiastical fellowship and general subordination which we as a Christian Association conceive we ought to maintain.

Article I. We believe that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament contain a revelation of the character of God, and of the duty, interest and final destination of mankind.

Article II. We believe that there is one God, whose nature is Love, revealed in one Lord Jesus Christ, by one Holy Spirit of Grace, who will finally restore the whole family of mankind to holiness and happiness.

Article III. We believe that holiness and true happiness are inseparably connected, and that believers ought to be careful to maintain order and practice good works; for these things are good and profitable unto men.

As we believe these to be truths which deeply concern the honor of the Divine character and the interests of man, we do hereby declare that we continue to consider ourselves, and our societies in fellowship, a Denomination of Christians, distinct and separate from those who do not approve the whole of this Profession of Belief, as expressed in the three above Articles.

And as a distinct denomination, we continue to claim the authority of exercising among ourselves that order for the glory of God in the good of the church, which Christianity requires.

And we continue to claim the external privileges, which, according to the free Constitution of our country, every denomination is entitled to enjoy.

Yet while we, as an Association, adopt a general Profession of Belief and Plan of Church Government, we leave it to the several Churches ad Societies, or to smaller associations of churches, if such should be formed, within the limits of our General Association, to continue or adopt within themselves, such more particular articles of faith, or modes of discipline, as may appear to them best under their particular circumstances,

provided they do not disagree with our general Profession and Plan.

And while we consider that every Church possesses within itself all the powers of self-government, we earnestly and affectionately recommend to every Church, Society, or particular Association, to exercise the spirit of Christian meekness and charity towards those who have different modes of faith or practice, that where the brethren cannot see alike, they may agree to differ; and let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

PLAN OF THE GENERAL ASSOCIATION

Section 1st. The General Association of Universalists of the New England States shall hold a Convention once each year, at such time and place as shall have been appointed by the preceding Convention.

Section 2d. Each Society approving our general Profession and Plan, and manifesting a desire for the increase and support of gospel light and order, shall have a right to send to the Convention a delegate or delegates, who shall hold our general Profession of Belief, and appoint a sober, moral character, and such delegates shall be received as members of the Convention.

Section 3d. Those ordained Ministers and licensed Preachers of the Gospel who have received the fellowship of the Association, shall be considered as members of each Convention as which they attend, while they remain in that fellowship, whether they produce credentials from any society, or not.

Section 4th. The consent of the majority of the members present shall be necessary to the reception of any new member who is neither a minister nor a preacher in fellowship, nor a delegate producing credentials from some Church, Society, or particular Association.

Section 5th. Each member of the Convention shall be entitled to one vote in every matter to be determined; except those in which the Societies represented ought to have equal privileges, such as determining the place for holding the next Convention, or any other matter which a majority of the Convention shall judge to be of a similar nature in this respect; in such cases each society shall be considered as having no more than one voice, and each person voting shall be considered as representing no more than one Society.

Section 6th. The business of a General Convention, when met, shall be:

To choose a Presiding Elder, Clerk, and other Officers if necessary.

To examine into the state of particular Societies, Churches, or Associations, on due representation; and to give or withhold, continue or withdraw their fellowship, as may be necessary.

To look over the conduct of the members of the Association, especially those wholabor in word and doctrine, and approve or rebuke, or deny fellowship, as occasion may require.

To examine into the qualifications of ministers, preachers, or other individuals who appear [as] candidates for the fellowship of the Association, and give or withhold that fellowship, as may appear best.

To appoint, and hear the reports of, particular committees, and determine concerning them.

And to adopt all such measures in their power as may tend to the promotion of good order, instruction and edification.

Section 7th. Ordinations during the recess of the Convention shall be conducted as heretofore, at such times and in such places and manner as attendant circumstances and good order may require, and due and seasonable report thereof shall be made to the Association, in Convention.

Section 8th. The General Association, and particular Associations and Churches, in all cases are required to look for those qualifications in their Officers which the Scriptures of the New Testament have made requisite, particularly Matthew, chapter xxviii, verses 19th and 20th, and the 3d and 4th chapters of the first Epistle to Timothy; and they are referred to the same sacred books for directions how to deal with offenders, particularly Matthew xviii. 15th, 21st, and Luke xvii. 3d and 4th.

Section 9th. The General Association disclaims all authority for passing any further judgment against any offending particular Association, Society, Church or individual, than the mere withdrawing of fellowship.

Section 10th. The Association reserves to itself, under the direction of that divine wisdom which was to accompany the followers of Christ to the end of the world, the right of making hereafter such alterations of this General Plan of the Association, as circumstances may require. But there is no alteration of any part of the three Articles that contain the Profession of our Belief ever to be made at any future period.

The above and the within, is respectfully submitted by Zebulon Streeter, George Richards, Hosea Ballou, Walter Ferris, Zephaniah Lathe, The Committee of the General Convention, appointed at Strafford, Vermont, September 1802.

The following document, and the Profession and the Plan were reprinted in Richard Eddy’s serialized “Universalist Conventions and Creeds” (Universalist Quarterly, July 1876: 168-69.)

Following this [the Plan – Scott Wells] in the Record book, is this

certificate of the adoption of the Committee’s Report:

By the General Convention of the Universal Churches and Societies, Ratification in Total: The above, and all and every part thereof, having been deliberately read, maturely considered, and seriously investigated, was accepted of and passed by the unanimous vote of all present. In solemn witness whereof, the Presiding Elder, and Clerk, and Assistant Reader, have affixed their respective signatures.

ZEBULON STREETER, Presiding Elder.

NOAH MURRAY, Clerk

Winchester, N. H., Sept. 23, 1803.

EDWARD TURNER, Assistant Reader

The printed

Minutes contain in addition to the above, the following:

APPROVED IN TOTAL.

Joab Young, Ministering at Strafford, Vermont. _Ebenezer

Paine_, Ministering at Washington, N. H. Miles T. Woolly,

Ministering at large. Edmund Pillsbury Ministering at

Northwood, N. H. Samuel Hilliard, Ministering at Cornish,

N. H. William Farewell. Ministering at Charlestown, N. H.

Cyrus Gray Parsons, [Cornelius Grey Person] Ministering at

Windsor, Vermont. Samuel Smith, Ministering at Salisbury,

Connecticut. Joshua Flagg, Ministering at Dana,

Massachusetts.

APPROVING ELDERS AND MESSENGERS

Ezekiel Powers, Samuel Brown, Ebenezer Cheeny, John Haskell, Amos

Wendall, Nathaniel Stacy, Asa Lawrence, Joseph Wakefield,

Chandler Robbins, David Castine, George Simmons, James Walker,

Daniel Griffis, Col. Copeland, Samuel Williams, Wales Cheeney,

Levi Maxey, David Needham, Johnathan Page, Oliver Noies, Paul

Mason, George Beckwith, Samuel Parrett, Joel Amesdon, Samuel

Murdock, Samuel Cotton, Stephen Powers.

DISSENTIENTS

Noah Murray and Solomon Glover.

**The

“Certificate of the Adoption of the Committee’s Report”,

being the “Profession of Belief, and Plan of the General

Association of the Universal Churches and Societies of the New

England States”**

[Eddy’s note

continue]

It is somewhat remarkable that none of the names of the Committee appear in this list, and with the exception of Noah Murray, none of the names of the Officers of the Convention. Thirty-eight Societies were represented by the delegates, — fifteen of them by Ministers, one by N. Stacy, a “Candidate for the Ministry,” and twenty-two by laymen. The Societies and their representatives were: Charlton, Sturbridge, Rev. Edward Turner; New Marlboro, Tyringham, Rev. Samuel Smith; Bernard, Rev. Hosea Ballou; Goshen, Lenox, Stockbridge, Pittsfield, Rev. Miles T. Wooley; Dana, Rev. Joshua Flagg; Portsmouth, Rev. George Richards; Hinesburg, Rev. Walter Ferriss; Washington, Rev. Ebenezer Paine; Newton, [Newton, Ct.] Rev. Samuel Glover; Grafton, Rev. Zephaniah Lathe; Benson, Rev. N. Stacy; Orange, Ebenezer Cheeney; Winchester, John Haskll; Boston, Deacon Emmons; Bridgewater, Amos Wendall [or Mendall]; Andover, Samuel Brown; Salisbury, Asa Lawrence; West Briton, Paul Mason; Windsor, Joseph Wakefield; Croydon, Ezekiel Powers; Bereans, (probably from Boston), John Fillebrown; New Haven, Chandler Rogers; Bethel, Deacon David Castine; Woodstock, George Simmons; Rockingham, James Walker; Monkton, Dea. Daniel Griffis; Hartland, Samuel Williams; Milford, Wales Cheeney; Swansey, Levi Maxey; South Brimfield, David Needham; North Henn[?- S.W.]iker, Jonathan Page; North Hopkinton, Oliver Noies [or Noyes]; Stoddard, Col. Copeland. Ministers present, not delegates, were Zebulon Streeter, of Surry, Mass.; Noah Murray, of Tioga Point, Penn.; Joab Young, of Strafford, Vt.; David Ballou, of Mass.; Edmund Pillsbury, of Northwood, N.H.; William Farewell, of Charlestown, N.H.; Samuel Hilliard, of Cornish, N.H., although his name does not appear in the list of Ministers present, received Ordination at this session: and Abner Kneeland, of Alstead, N.H., a “Candidate for the Ministry, and (with N. Stacy) admitted to fellowship.

Comparing this list of Ministers and Delegates with the list of names of those who are said to have “Approved in total” the report of the Committee, it is seen that David Ballou, Abner Kneeland, William Farewell, Deacon Emmons, and John Fillebrown are not mentioned in the latter. Our previous surmise as to the reason why Noah Murray was among the objectors may well explain the position of the Boston delegates, who represented a Church that had adopted the Philadelphia Profession, and was working under its Plan of Government; and possibly David Ballou, laboring at large in Massachusetts, may have been in sympathy with them. But on the traditional theory of what was to be effected by adopting this report, how account for the non-action of two of the New Hampshire Ministers, and one of them (Rev. William Farewell) Erskine’s Pastor? It will be seen also, in making such a comparison of lists, that Beckwith, Parrett, Amesdon, and Cotton, who are represented as “approving,” are not mentioned in the list of Members of the Convention.